Monday, November 29, 2010

First response from Kickstarter and a question to followers

Here is a copy of the first response from Kickstarter - one that I think asks the right questions. Now I would like to get comments from our little community of 75 following on blogger and others who come in often or occasionally.

This first response is from Cindy

Cindy commented on your Kickstarter submission:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for writing. Interesting idea -- I'm curious as to how you plan to bring
it to Kickstarter. Kickstarter projects succeed thanks to built-in communities
and creative, tangible rewards. Projects often receive pledges from complete
strangers, but this is usually due to the momentum that their friends and fans
help create.

How would you present your project? Kickstarter projects are those focused
around a singular, creatively-based aim. What rewards would you offer backers?
Take a look around the site for some ideas and how you would structure.


What do you think of Cindy's question, and how should we answer it? Do we have some momentum and built in support, and how do we explain how a film might accomplish a creative mission? What should the rewards and levels be, and how should we structure it? Can anyone think of some creative and interesting awards in addition to a "New55" product?  Can we make a strong case, and what will it have to do to be considered successful?  Who might benefit besides instant film users, and will this make artistic expression better, broader, easier, more accessible, more powerful?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Film, Pod and Clip Construction

We've been pondering over this part for a while and have come to the conclusion that to make this assembly, we should make one continuous backing sheet and then lay the Efke on top of that.  There is a concern that doing this will lead to a too-thick assembly though, but I think that can be made up for (or subtracted actually) at the receiver sheet, which can be thinner.  Also it might not matter much: the rollers should, if used this way, compensate for thickness, the only limit being the rails (not shown) on each side of the receiver sheet. These rails regulate the distance between the receiver and the negative, essentially the space where the viscous, spreadable reagent can flow.

Putting the film over a prepared surface makes hand-assembly of that part possible in total darkness without a lot of tooling or fixturing.

At the bottom you can see the double-chambered pod, very similar to that still used by Fuji in FP100C45.  We would leave out the "holes" at the top which are a reservoir for excess reagent and instead have some kind of light sealing cap with some space under it.

This is a color negative but the same dimensions as 55, reposted here in higher resolution.  Kodak Readyloads and Fuji Quickloads look almost the same, except no pod is present.

Friday, November 26, 2010


On suggestion of a reader, I just signed up for Kickstarter, filled out their forms, (very convincingly, I thought) and hit "enter".

Kickstarter is a non-investment funding source for various projects that you can see here.  It is quite interesting, and I believe a great, early idea for "angel" funding without the conventional corporate involvement. Some of the funded Kickstart projects appear to be preselling awards, like a camera strap and clip shown here. Pretty neat product!

Apparently after filling out the form, Kickstarter staff review it and see if it meets certain criteria.  Even though Kickstarter gathers smaller funding pledges it might be enough to move our project forward to a working prototype demonstration that could help show evidence of commercial and artistic viability.

submitted by Bob Crowley on Friday Nov 26, 5:48pm EST



Funding Goal


Project Description

With the news that there are no plans to produce any more Polaroid Type 55 P/N film a small group of dedicated photographers are starting to plan their own instant negative films and processes.
The goal is to enable the supply of a very high quality 4X5 negative material, for artistic purposes, that can easily be field processed, like so-called "instant" film once sold as Polaroid Type 55.
A feasibility study has been conducted, a budget has been developed, and now we are looking for support, distribution, and commitments for a production effort with ship to stock within 8 months of funding.

Project Rewards

Photographers who still have one or more of the millions of Speed Graphics, and other 4X5 cameras, will have available a new, reasonably priced super high quality, high resolution instant monochrome film that is much sharper and more detailed than any digital image, and can produce very fine art photographs.
Our group has a track record of new product commercialization and success in developing new products and processes. This particular product has a limited marketplace, but a very devoted one, and success in a small way could lead to wider and more profitable product offerings.


Home page for the project
Outline of the plan
Supporting company with other products that will provide the facility and has funded the feasibility study

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wide Weekend

This weekend I plan to give my shortened Speed Graphic a try with the little 65mm Super Angulon.  The trick to making this work was 1. shortening the body so the film plane was as close as possible to the rail and 2. getting the complete range of focus, from infinity to about 24 inches, accommodated with the front standard clamped on the internal portion of the moving rails.

The nice thing about the Anniversary Speed Graphic is the way the front standard tilts far out of the field of view of even this fairly short lens.  This is my attempt to show you in one shot the leather covered lens cap and matching leather covered baseboard. Moving the baseboard wiggled the front standard a bit, so the words Speed Graphic have ghosts.

Here is a link to some other views of this same camera.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

9" f3 portrait lens

Today this portrait lens was cobbled together out of a Zeiss condenser and a B&L negative meniscus lens - both recovered finds from the Sudbury dump.  These lenses are fairly big, and when stacked closely result in a nine inch focal length with a big aperture.  Put together with gaffer's tape, it is a temporary test, and it just fit on an Anniversary Speed Graphic lensboard with no room to spare. The negative lens is just placed on top of the condenser lens, and the two are set on a wood lens board and then taped into place.

Here's the result on Fuji FP100C45.

9 inch lenses with f 3 apertures aren't too common. This one easily covers 8X10.  I don't know why, but smaller images online and thumbnails from this Epson scanner appear different when enlarged, and you can see the effect when you click on the image of the man with the glasses in his hand, or the two ladies, below, in their beachwear.  What causes this? Somebody has to know.

To make it even more of a mystery, this effect is only seen on my macbook running OSX, and not on a desktop running XP Pro. Both on Firefox. What's up with that - some kind of hidden color profile maybe?

All Hail the Speed Graphic for making this kind of experiment so easy! Pity the poor Linhofs, and their inability to turn light on and off when needed.

Resuts: Do You Have a 4X5 Camera?

I have one!
  21 (48%)
I have more than one!
  13 (30%)
Soon I will have one
  4 (9%)
Nope, not for me
  5 (11%)

Total number of votes 43

78% f respondents have at least one 4x5 camera, and another 10% plan to, leaving just over 10% who do not have an interest in 4X5.

Thank you for participating. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Last of the Kodachrome

One in the can, another in the camera with just two exposures left, then that's it.

Off to Dwayne's they go. But not the E4 you see - that was processed as a B&W negative here - not much of interest on it.

Many old timers shot their first color on Kodachrome. Certain people think that Velvia beat it, but I don't think so, because Kodachrome could produce vivid saturation AND excellent skin tones, and it lasts a long time too. This was shot in 1966 with my Yashica Penta J. Also, this is a good example of an artifact in blogger - when you click on this image, on many monitors the enlarged image has a different and much more saturated color profile - certainly different than the thumbnail. Try it and see.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Aero Ektar on a Graflex

One of the nice things about the Aero Ektar is its easy compatibility with the common Graflex Speed Graphic cameras.  Speed Graphics have a very useful focal plane shutter that allows just about any lens with or without a shutter, or a pinhole, to be easily used for medium to large format shooting, and at a very low cost.  A lot of people don't think that the Speed Graphic has any real movements such as the ability to swing, tilt and shift, but that is debatable. While in stock form "The Speed" isn't a shapely circus contortionist bent like an extreme pretzel, it does have a drop bed, a useful rise, and plenty of tilt back on the front standard. Extreme swing and forward tilt can be added by modifying the front standard, like this example linked here.

Shown on a Slick (Not Slik) tripod with a large knuckle type head that is so easy to position and use.

About the famous Yellow Dot. Some Aero Ektars you see have a mysterious and apparently cult-inducing Yellow Dot on the lens shade.  The origin and meaning of the Yellow Dot has been much discussed on several websites and in forums, but as far as I know the real meaning of the dot, if any, is not known.  I have had three Aero Ektar lenses in here, with and without dots, and I can say that as far as I can tell, there is not any difference between dotted and not, none at all, except at least a hundred dollar premium on ebay for those lucky enough to be marked that way.  Keep in mind that thousands  of these lenses were produced and are very common, and although the auction prices have risen to the $300 level recently, good examples can be bought for less, if you shop around.

If you get an Aero Ektar, I recommend you visit this site for an excellent mount and shade. I have both!

The Aero Ektar is the poor sister in a sense to the much more expensive and luxurious Schneider Xenotar 150mm f2.8 lens, which can be fitted, at even greater cost, to a Compur No. 2 or Copal No. 3 shutter, for those unfortunates who are stuck with mere Linhofs.  I have that lens on our primary test camera, here. 

The Xenotar is cool, but not a very great lens unless you need f2.8, and they are way too expensive on ebay.  The Aero Ektar and its war surplus connotation is appealing, and the extra inch of focal length and f2.5 aperture make it very good for those who want selective focus.

Kodak Aero Ektar and Fuji FP100C

A while back I was playing with mounts to attach the 7" focal length Kodak Aero Ektar f2.5 lens on different cameras such as Anniversary and Pacemaker Speed Graphics, and shot this image of a broken truck across the street from the lab.  I liked the way the little bare maple tree with its white bark worked against the black and red of the truck.

There is a certain look to this lens and many other character lenses, as I call them, have a specific and identifiable visual appearance they impart on the image.  Aperture, glass type, glass design, aberration, coatings, age, color and other factors contribute to this effect, affecting the final image in an artistically pleasing or useful way, if all goes well.

The Aero Ektar has a cult following especially for those wanting a good lens to tilt to bring certain areas in or out of focus. The effect of tilt-shift in certain television productions has become a little too common lately, and is becoming cliche.  As we get used to looking at these pseudo-miniature landscapes our perception of minification is itself minimized, and might be lost, but visual languages change and evolve with use the same way spoken languages are, so we have to expect this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

FP100C stereo pair

Here, finally, are the cross-eyed pair of apples. Shot with the Byron on the kitchen counter, then eaten. Click to enlarge. These are not hyper stereo, just angled at approximate eye space.

The Byron is an amazing camera based on a Polaroid 110B that requires no adapter for the Fuji PA-45, a Grafmatic, or a standard 4X5 film holder.  It's truly an ingenious design that totally departs from the "graft" or "adapter" system used on many converted 110 and similar cameras.

Cross-eyed stereo is hard for some people, but very easy once you get used to it. Sit well back, relax, cross and wait, as the eyes will naturally fuse and focus the images, if you are patient. It helps to tilt your head a little to fuse the images in the vertical plane. Start with small images from a distance and work your way up. You will then have the secret ability to compare two similar objects or pictures, such as the side-by-side puzzles in which you are asked to find what parts are missing from one. They appear instantly, and are obvious, when viewed together like this. Also any two time separated image frames will produce a third visually different, often stereo appearing frame.